And all that Va-jazz(le)

Okay, I’ll just get this bit over and done with: I have never shaved or waxed my pubic hair. I did once give it a little trim, but the discomfort of having overly-sensitive hair-ends was enough to make me never go down that (garden) path again. So it is with a very voyeuristic fascination that I felt the need to find out about something that has been described as “the latest beauty trend”: the “vajazzle”.  Have you heard of it? The vajazzle is a design of small crystals that are stuck onto a bald pubic mound with something akin to eyelash glue. The idea is that you can add some sparkle into your (love) life by adding some bling to your bits.

Once upon a time a free-range bush was the norm and no one would have batted an eyelid if you dropped your knickers to reveal hair from your thighs to your belly button. Okay, perhaps that’s a bit excessive but it does happen: I’ve heard one woman boast about her thigh ‘sideburns’ and another talk of the ‘happy hairy trail’ that could be followed from just below her waistband down to her full and luscious forest.

A quick check of “The Playmate Book” – featuring five decades of centrefolds – gives a potted history of the bush. (Biased to Hugh Hefner’s preferences I know, and not representative of all porn (and certainly not all women) through the ages, but perfectly adequate for a quick snapshot – or snatch-shot as the case may be.)

In the 50s it was all about subtlety and glamour: breasts and buttocks were prominent but the ladygarden itself was kept under wraps. Maybe they were all secretly sporting vajazzles? We will never know.

Enter the 60s and things start to get a little more revealing: a sheet draped around the hips; undone buttons on trousers; the knickers sitting lower and lower on the hips. Now we can tell that all is not au naturel but exactly what has been left is still a mystery.

Pubic hair was sexy in the 70s. Bikini lines were trimmed and there was some shaping going on but, by and large, the bush was out and proud. No longer hidden behind a strategically placed knee or cushion, full-frontal had arrived.  The women raised their hems and uncrossed their legs and the bush provided exactly the fuzzy, soft-focus cover needed to still keep their private parts private.

Can time be measured by the ever-reducing size a woman’s downstairs ‘do? As the 80s moved into the 90s pubic hairdos became more finely cultivated: rectangles and triangles; clipped to desired volume, length and shape – but there was still hair ‘down there’.

That’s where my book stops. But I know about the 00s because every beauty salon I pass includes on their ‘menu’ a range of options for pubic grooming. Not that they call it that of course. They use names like ‘Hollywood’, ‘Brazilian’, ‘Californian’: exotic, seductive names to instil a feeling of excitement rather than fear.  They range from the well-known ‘landing strip’ to everything-off-front-and-back. (And by back, they do of course mean the back garden: what lies beyond the labia, down the back alley and enters into that private of private places – anus territory.)

So here’s my take on it all: I don’t want anyone ripping out my pubic hair, and I don’t feel the need to beautify my bits with stick-on jewels. I love my pubic hair just as it is, I feel sexy when a lover caresses it, and I don’t mind a little undergrowth overhanging the edges of my swimsuit. BUT I know not every woman feels the same.  So is topiary of that tender-place simply all about a woman’s right to choose? Is wearing a vajazzle for the weekend no different to buying a new necklace from Top Shop or getting out the glittery eyeshadow? Or, beneath all the bling, is there actually a darker message about women feeling the need to ‘prettify’ and add expense to something they don’t believe has its own, intrinsic beauty and worth? We wax, we shave, we do ‘all that jazz’ and yet we still don’t feel that our ladygarden is the most beautiful, glorious, wondrous part of the entire universe, ours to enjoy and celebrate just as it is. Maybe I’m stuck in the 70s, but I think I’ll stick with my unkempt garden: a wilderness of womanhood.

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  1. Muff March: were you there? « The Ladygarden Project

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